Cashing tickets is what it’s all about, so here’s two picks for Saturday and three for Sunday.
Mississippi State (-9) at Kansas State
9 a.m. Saturday
I usually don’t recommend betting against Kansas State coach Bill Snyder as a home underdog. But first-year coach Joe Moorhead welcomes quarterback Nick Fitzgerald back from suspension for Mississippi State. In his last two years, Fitzgerald has thrown for 36 touchdowns. Moorhead did a superb job as the offensive coordinator at Penn State. Under his guidance, the Nittany Lions’ offense improved from 342 to 447 yards and from 22 to 39½ points per game. The Bulldogs also have one of the better defensive lines in the Southeastern Conference.
Southern California at Stanford (-5)
5:30 p.m. Saturday
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Stanford is simply the Bryce Love show. The Cardinal proved that in last week’s win over San Diego State, showcasing quarterback K.J. Costello. USC has a true freshman quarterback in JT Daniels, who is going to be a great player — but not this weekend. David Shaw is one of my favorite coaches. In his eighth year at Stanford, he is 55-37-2 against the spread. Running behind an offensive line that has everyone back from last season, Love should have a big day.
Jacksonville (-3) at New York Giants
10 a.m. Sunday
It’s sometimes difficult to back Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, but he might be better than that perception. While the Giants gave Odell Beckham Jr. the highest salary ever for a wide receiver, the Jaguars feature the best pair of cornerbacks in the NFL in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Will either of them make like Josh Norman and get into Beckham’s head?
Cincinnati (+3) at Indianapolis
10 a.m. Sunday
We think they have the wrong favorite. It’s great that quarterback Andrew Luck is back, but this line is an overreaction, because the Colts still have to stop somebody. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has star receiver A.J. Green, running back Joe Mixon and healthy tight end Tyler Eifert. Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis might be one of the short prices to be the first NFL coach fired, but he redid his staff and is facing an Indianapolis defense that was the third-worst in the league in yardage and scoring last season, blowing five double-digit leads.
Chicago (+7½) at Green Bay
5:20 p.m. Sunday
The hook means everything in this game. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been lethal against the Bears, going 15-4 against the Packers’ biggest rival. But the Bears defense will keep them in a lot of games, especially with the addition of defensive end Khalil Mack. If the team is right about quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s upside, and with a reloaded receiving corps and decent running backs, it’s all about grabbing an attractive number.
Brent Musburger’s betting column appears Saturday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His show on the Vegas Stats & Information Network can be heard on SiriusXM 204 and livestreamed at reviewjournal.com/vegas-stats-information-network.